Istanbul holds election re-run for mayor following disputed March result

Voters in Istanbul will go to the polls today for a rerun of the March 31 mayoral election, when opposition

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Photo: Reuters

Voters in Istanbul will go to the polls today for a rerun of the March 31 mayoral election, when opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu beat AK Party candidate Binali Yildirim by fewer than 14,000 votes.

The move to rerun the election—the AK Party claimed voting irregularities—is widely seen as a warning for Turkish democracy; analysts expect further turmoil following today’s vote. If Mr Imamoglu wins again, it would bode ill for the AK party and Erdogan’s chances in future elections, which could push the president to quicken his efforts to erode the democratic process—most immediately by not accepting the result. However, an AK Party victory could cause the opposition to call for uprisings akin to those in Gezi Park in 2013, which resulted in 22 deaths and thousands of arrests.

Regardless of the outcome, difficulties remain ahead for Turkey. Lasting effects from the now 9-year Syrian Civil War and the battering of the Turkish economy by US sanctions and tariffs have put a tremendous economic and social strain on Turkey. Further descent into chaos would not only trigger another influx of refugees into Europe but would also send ripples throughout NATO as Turkey’s role in the Middle East would certainly diminish.

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